It’s been a few weeks since my last post and although I was well aware of the major dump that hit the Rockies around Nov 18th, I really couldn’t find the time to bring you an update.  Christmas season tends to be very busy as you all know and I have to admit that I’m somewhat less committed than I was a few years ago.  There was a time when a powder day wouldn’t get past me.  Several years back I was in Hawaii at the end of November and I’d make a trip to the nearby internet cafe to check conditions and update Powderwatch.   On Nov 17th I missed a voicemail from my buddy who is currently between jobs and has nothing but time for skiing.  Around 8am the next morning, I listened to his message and felt the usual pang of regret over missed opportunity.  When I later asked him about the day, his response was, “I’m not going to lie to you.  It was fantastic.  There were some rocks that I hit but the snow was perfect.  And you’re not going to go without hitting a few rocks this time of year.”  It may have been a little jealousy that prevented me from reporting the conditions that week!  But I’m over it now.  It also helps that I just finished walking Rio, my wife is out shopping, and I don’t have any basement reno project scheduled for today.  On with the update…

As Mr Ryder has Sunshine Village well covered on a much more frequent basis than I can currently manage, I’m going to focus more on Lake Louise this year.  But of course any major powder events at my favourites (Fernie, Kicking Horse, Whitewater, Whistler, and anywhere else they have epic snow) will get covered as my time permits.  I’ll also continue to provide snow condition summaries and weekend outlooks on a regular basis under the ‘Canadian Rockies Snow’ tab.  For those who love Sunshine Village, the ‘Ryder Report’ is your best source of information and entertainment on the internet.  He’s right… we should have thousands of visitors a day but that can be difficult with no time and no budget.  As readers, you can help by spreading the word – and if anyone wants to volunteer to help out this year we certainly would appreciate it.  In the past I’ve tried running ads in the paper including Rocky Mountain Outlook and smaller publications in Fernie, Golden, and Nelson.  But I’m always surprised by the lack of response.  Most likely it’s because of my lack of sales and marketing experience – no surprise that I can’t write an ad that really attracts people.  Sorry, I’ve slipped way of topic again.

The bigs news at Lake Louise this week was the opening of Whitehorn 1 and Boomerang.  I talked to some colleagues that skied Louise last weekend and they said they were happy to find the platter running but only runs on the front side were open.  The feedback on the Whitehorm summit coverage was very positive – impressive for so early in the season.  This shot from Louise on Friday is also impressive the snow looks great even after having no significant snowfall for over a week.

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I look at that beautiful blue sky above a freshly tracked slope and I actually start to feel something in my chest.  It could be love.  This next shot gives you any idea of what it’s probably like on the rest of the mountain.  Yes the snow has been groomed out and packed by skier traffic but there’s still evidence of crumbly snow and nothing that even remotely resembles ice.  I could ski that all day and not be disappointed.

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For those of you who haven’t already been talking excitedly about skiing with your work mates around the water cooler, the word on the street is that conditions are great right now with a solid base and lots of runs open. Lake Louise has 98 runs open already.  When conditions are good, early season is an excellent time to get out there and start working those muscles back into shape.  The crowds really aren’t there until you get into the Christmas break.  It tends to be warmer than the frigid days of January/February – although for the last few seasons extreme cold has been more of a random event than a normal part of mid-winter skiing. One of my biggest complaints about early season skiing is that a lot of runs (and lifts) are closed and yet there is no discount on lift tickets.  But when most of the mountain is already open then that I certainly feel better about dropping some of my hard earned cash on a day of fresh air, exercise and fun.

I know it’s too late to talk about the amazing conditions we had a week and a half ago but I still have to leave with a couple amazing shots from that powder event.  The next time this happens I really want to be part of it!  (Note the 138cms in 7 days… that makes for stellar snow conditions any time of the year)

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